So, this whole time, I’ve been working on moving away from a legalistic attitude about spiritual things. And yet, a friend pointed out to me that my format in the blog so far was somewhat legalistic. I laid out a path to follow and didn’t deviate from the plan, even when I felt frustrated by the limitations. To be fair, there is something to be said for following through even when you don’t feel like it. I mean, what kind of flake would I be if I didn’t come to an arranged lunch date just because I didn’t feel like it? But, at the same time, following “rules” is one of the fastest ways to kill spiritual joy I’ve experienced.
So, what is legalism? For me, legalism meant feeling obligated to perform certain duties within my church group, even though they didn’t bring me spiritual enlightenment, growth, or joy. I didn’t feel called to take up the burden’s I’d picked up (cleaning up after certain events and organizing worship, among other things), but I picked up those jobs anyways, and wore myself out. Worship became a chore for me because I was constantly worried about the details (did we have enough food for dinner? Were there enough volunteers to clean up? etc.). I was frustrated with and tired of doing taking care of it all. I was tired of working so hard for God, but getting nothing in return.
Despite all my efforts, I didn’t feel any closer to God, I didn’t feel anymore love, or have any greater direction for my life. And I was tired. So sick and tired of working for God. After talking to my leaders in my church group, I realized that I had imposed a lot of the burdens upon myself. Why? Because despite my theoretical knowledge of Grace, I had yet to fully experience it. I didn’t believe that I deserved Grace. So I tried to earn it, to make myself worthy of that incredible gift. Legalism was a safe escape for me. It felt comfortable to have rules to surround myself with—they were familiar. We have rules in every other aspect of our lives, why not in our spirituality?? It gave me something “stable” to stand on when I couldn’t explain or rationalize something as honestly crazy as grace.
Grace is fundamentally irrational to me. I can’t explain it. Jesus loved us as a creation, as well as me as an individual, so much that he decided to repair the breech in man’s relationship with God—a breech we caused in the first place! And then, to top it off, the cost of repairing our messed-up relationship was His LIFE! He voluntarily came to earth to die to save a bunch of screw-ups like me. I can’t even fathom a love that big. We compare it to the love a parent has for a child, or a lover for his/her beloved, but I don’t think any human emotion can ever compare with how ginormous His love for us must be.